MEET THE TEAM
Elizabeth Champion graduated from Hope College with honors, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in Theatre (with an emphasis in Directing and Stage Management) and English Literature. The recipient of a theatrical Distinguished Artist Award, Junior Theatre Award, and the Theatre Department's Brad Williams Memorial Scholarship, she also received a certificate of merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival recognizing her work directing Hope College's production of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona and stage managed Hope College's production of the musical Gone Missing that was selected to perform for the festival that same year.
Since graduating Elizabeth has worked with both professional and community theatres as a director and stage manager. She can most often be found directing for Dexter High School and is overwhelmed by God's provision that allows her to fulfill her dreams of working with young people despite her lack of a teaching degree. She is blessed to consistently receive theatre work while living out her vocation to marriage with her amazingly supportive husband Greg, who champions her heart daily, her three-year-old son Isaac who fills her life with laughter, and her one-year-old daughter Naomi who lives up to her name as the "pleasant one." She is a lifelong charismatic Christian who was confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church at Easter 2014.
Kelsey Cratty began her professional acting career 13 years ago with New American Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol in Rockford, IL. She has since graced the stages of A. D. Players, Artists' Ensemble, Starlight Theatre, Bonzi Productions, and more.
Kelsey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hope College with a B.A. in Theatre. She there received a Distinguished Artist Award as well as the Kruizinga scholarship, which recognizes a theater student showing promise in her career. Favorite roles at Hope include Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Lydia in Big Love, Sabina in Skin of our Teeth, and Juliet in Juliet.
Post-graduation, Kelsey moved to Houston where she worked for two years as an actress and Theatre Arts Academy teacher at A. D. Players. Favorite roles with ADP include Thumbelina in Thumbelina, Mary in Mary and Martha, and, ironically, her final performance on the ADP stage as multiple roles in John, His Story (based on The Gospel of John, written and directed by Jeanette Clift George).
After a short-term mission trip to Honduras, Kelsey felt called to sacrifice acting to work for The Micah Project, a discipleship home for street teens. Three years later, the Lord called Kelsey to resurrect her theatre career with a renewed sense of identity. No longer "the actress", Kelsey now returns to the stage as "his messenger" performing the greatest script of all: his SCRIPTure. To Him be the glory! "He must become greater, I must become less." (John 3:30).
Jessie Joy Wise is originally from Ann Arbor, MI, and has been involved in theatrical arts, dance and music since her youth. She received an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with a Certificate in Sound Production and Engineering from Washtenaw Community College, 2008. In Spring of 2011, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Dance Making focus from Columbia College Chicago where she danced in works choreographed by renowned artists such as Joe Goode. Jessie danced professionally with DDCdances of Detroit from 2011-2013 and People Dancing of Ann Arbor from 2014-2015. Beyond performing in musicals, her musical theatre experience includes co-founding her own youth company, Jiggawhat Productions, where she directed, choreographed and produced the annual musicals and guest performances (2008-2010, 2012). Jessie currently teaches dance technique and repertoire in the Ann Arbor area (Studio 3 PAC, YTRD Youth Dance), and choreographs musicals for Dexter High School and Ann Arbor Christian School. As a designer of the theatrical experience - movement, sound, and more - Jessie finds herself dedicated to the wide range of humanity that can be both captured and released on stage. Jessie is thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with these fellow artists in Christ on the The Gospel of John.
MacKenzie Lakatos graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hope College in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre (with an emphasis in property and scenic design) and a minor in history. The recipient of a Distinguished Artist Award scholarship, she also received a Theatre Department Award for her work during her Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years. Professionally, MacKenzie worked for the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre for two summers in the prop shop. In her Junior year she was blessed to design the properties and scenery for Juliet. She is excited to work with Kelsey and Elizabeth again on The Gospel of John.
After graduation, MacKenzie spent two years away from production work to plan her wedding and settle into married life with her husband, Cory. Her housekeeping work at a local hospital has made it possible for her to volunteer her time painting and designing properties and scenery for the community theatre. She is currently on a hiatus from the community theatre as she and Cory settle into family life with their infant son John. From a Non-denominational Evangelical background, MacKenzie was received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil in 2016.
We are passionate about theatre because every show is an unrepeatable experience that bonds all present, on and off stage, in a unique way. Live performance immediately makes its content more personal than watching a video and more tangible and alive than reading a book. The most “alive” material I know is the living word of God, and the story most worth telling, retelling, and proclaiming with all that we are is the Gospel. By God’s grace we have been both gifted and trained in the theatrical arts and feel strongly called that now is the time to use our abilities to mount a spoken word Gospel of John. Our hopes for this project are outlined below.
Our foremost goal is to allow the Word of God to speak for itself. We believe that the words of St. John’s Gospel are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they are the words Our Lord wishes for us to use -- in no way will we alter or abridge the Scripture.
There are many themes present in John’s Gospel; they are poignant and beautiful. We have no intention to focus our efforts to highlight any specific imagery. The Spirit will use different imagery to speak to audience members individually and I want to facilitate that as much as possible. Rather, our aim in this coincides with St. John’s (as stated in John 20:31); we proclaim the Gospel "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
Where performance and Scripture meet we find the opportunity for several beautiful things to take place. Firstly, live performance brings intimacy and relevancy to the Gospel message. Secondly, a passionate Christian who is a trained actress is able to breathe life and immediacy into St. John’s poetry. Thirdly, we offer the opportunity to strengthen a community through the shared event of experiencing the Scripture together in a unique way in the hopes that you will be "one as the Father and I are one" (John 17:21). And lastly, this performance is the impetus to carve time out of our busy lives and dedicate a couple hours to be reminded of the person of Jesus Christ as depicted in the Gospel. Sometimes we need an excuse to really be with Jesus, or we need help to be fully present in our time set aside for spiritual disciplines. Through the spoken word Gospel of John we hope to give the gift of engaging with the Gospel from beginning to end and deepening understanding of the person of Jesus Christ.
Unbroken Bones exists to realize the artistic and spiritual vision of founders Elizabeth Champion and Kelsey Cratty. This is their story:
In His grace and wisdom God placed a burning desire for theatre and a passionate (but as of yet immature) love for Him into the hearts of two of His daughters beginning at a very young age. He led them both into the theatre program at Hope College and they were neither fast nor particular friends, but recognized in each other the tenacity and drive for their art and the yearning desire to grow in maturity in Christ Jesus. These things drew them together gradually over time
Senior year of college God used a one-woman show, Juliet by Visky Andras (directed by Elizabeth and performed by Kelsey), to grow and shape their hearts and minds for the different vocations that awaited them after graduation. Juliet tells the story of a strong woman of faith interned with her seven children in a communist gulag in Hungary, not knowing whether her husband, a Pastor who has been imprisoned by the government, is even still alive. Kelsey needed to learn Juliet’s faith, Elizabeth needed to learn Juliet’s hope, and they both needed to be wrapped in the personal and boundless love of the Savior.
What did God teach us through Juliet?
Kelsey: Faith. God used Juliet in so many ways to stretch, test, and grow my faith. Even from the very beginning! First off, agreeing to being in a show of just me onstage (not that it's just me, but that's what the people would see) seemed like an impossible venture. I knew God was calling me to have faith that Elizabeth had in fact heard from Him regarding my participation in this project, which stretched my faith in trusting another's ability to listen to the Lord. I needed faith that God would actually equip me to do what he’d called me to do--since I didn't think I'd ever be able to carry out a role like this. I had to fight the fear that God wanted to test and see if I could handle falling on my face in front of an audience--I was afraid his will was me making a fool of myself. In the rehearsals that seemed so difficult where I felt like I couldn’t seem to make any headway and that I was the obstacle in the whole production, I needed faith that the Lord would in fact see his work through. I had to fight for faith that God really was good and that he even wanted my good. Meanwhile, as I was wrestling with so much self-doubt (and even doubt in God’s goodness), I was simultaneously investing so much time getting to know this woman Juliet who had a whole lot more "reason" to doubt the Lord than I did. Stepping into her shoes--a woman who honestly and painfully wrestled with God regarding his goodness/love as she walked through more life-shattering circumstances than I could ever imagine--was exactly what I needed to encounter the Lord's deep deep love for his people that far surpasses anything going on around us. Her faith grew mine by the grace of God. (And based on the life he's brought me through now, he knew I would need more faith!)
Elizabeth: Juliet remains the only piece of work that has transfixed me artistically while speaking life to my spirit. I have always struggled with depression, hopelessness, and the intense desire to be loved and found worthy. My growing up is a long line of misguided decisions and disobedience to the Lover of my Soul while I let my despair consume me and I searched for validation in things and relationships that lead ultimately to death. Juliet, in intense suffering and loneliness was able to be faithful to God (who she knew so intimately!) while being completely genuine about her circumstances and the emotions that came with them. Finally, the message I had been waiting for: the Lord pursues me as a Lover even in the dryness of the desert and righteousness is not unattainable for me simply because I am too intensely emotional to "fake it til I make it". Submersing myself in this script and learning to grow in this kind of love and fidelity while engaged was also the best marriage prep program I could have asked for.
Since graduating our lives have been exercises in placing our love for theatre on an altar before the Lord, promising to walk away forever if that’s what He wants. Elizabeth has a baby. Kelsey goes to Honduras. Our hearts and our offerings burn on that altar -- they burn, but they are not consumed. And the still, small voice whispers that this is where we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to be doing.
What Led Us to The Gospel of John
Two years into missionary work with Honduran street teens, God called Kelsey to take the entire next year to memorize the Gospel of John. Initially, she wondered if He would use her to present the text to others theatrically. But as the year progressed, she saw how much she personally needed His Word deeply embedded into her heart as she faced one of the most difficult years of her life. Kelsey clung to His Word--the light shining in the darkness--as she walked through the deaths of some of The Micah Project’s own boys. She held onto the resurrected Jesus as she looked at tomb after tomb that the world kept beckoning her to "come and see." Kelsey repeated to herself over and over that Jesus loses none of all those that God has given him, when she was afraid of herself--afraid she could somehow lose the little faith she had left. God knew Kelsey needed His Word living in her that her faith might survive the year. Little did she know, he also had other purposes for this memorization.
In the last chapters of John, Jesus calls Peter to demonstrate his love for him by tending/feeding his sheep. Prompted by this passage and the desire to share the fruits John’s Gospel had brought forth in herself, one night Kelsey was deeply moved to fall to her knees, hold out hands and pray, "Lord I give you my heart--my life--with open hands. I will go wherever you lead me." That same night Elizabeth was rocking her baby to sleep, praying over her children when with sudden force the Lord said, “You need to do Juliet again. With Kelsey.” Knowing Kelsey was in Honduras and feeling sheepish about the whole thing Elizabeth sent an email immediately because the Spirit promised this was urgent. Kelsey knew her prayer about what to do next was answered, so she shared about memorizing the Gospel of John and that another one-woman show together was certainly in their future. The ways Elizabeth’s heart had grown as a mother and the ways Kelsey’s faith and experience had deepened coming face-to-face with the hardness of poverty and death have perfectly prepared them to reunite and continue what they had only been able to scratch the surface of in college. And so it began...